Sunday, March 31, 2019

Final r-cluster metathesis in one child's French

My favourite 4-year-old is doing something very interesting these days with final consonant clusters in his French. Many word-final consonant clusters starting with R get metathesised: parle (speaks) becomes [palʀ] (yet parler "to speak" remains [paʀle]), tourne (turn) becomes [tunʀ], herbe (grass) becomes [ebʀ], ferme (close) becomes [femʀ]. On the other hand, "porte" (door) remains [pɔʀt]; regarde (look!) [ʀəgaʀd]; "force" (strength) [fɔʀs]; "mars" (March) [maʀs], "parc" (park) [paʀk]. Presumably the phenomenon is related to sonority: {l, n, m, b} metathesise, {t, d, s, k} do not. But French allows word-final consonant clusters with falling or rising sonority, and he has no trouble with words like "monstre" (monster) [mõstʀ]. Any idea if this is typical in French first language acquisition?

Nothing of the sort happens in his English or his Arabic. Then again, his English is non-rhotic anyway for some reason, and in Arabic he pronounces /r/ as [ʕ]; French is the only one of his languages where he's got the pronunciation of rhotics more or less sorted.

6 comments:

prof_chenine_rahim said...

Que dieu le protège

prof_chenine_rahim said...

Really it's very interesting phenomenon!, thank you so much.

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

Merci et amine ! Glad you found it interesting.

David Marjanović said...

What do you mean by non-rhotic? I thought your English is from London, so non-rhotic anyway? Or does he turn every remaining /r/ into /w/ or something?

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

No, my English is somewhat Anglicized American - I only got to the UK as I was entering my teens. He does pronounce onset /r/ as [w] usually, but coda /r/ he just deletes - hence non-rhotic.

David Marjanović said...

Interesting.